Now this is television! For me, 'Dexter' is the best show on TV. As of right now there isn't a show that comes close to its character dynamics, its plot complexities, and its out-right thrilling reveals. By now you should know who 'Dexter' is, what he does, and why this show is so damn good. I'll skip over the whole backstory of Dexter's serial killer history, because if you're into the fourth season you should know what has happened until now and what to expect. I realize many people wait until the Blu-rays come out to watch their favorite shows, so I won't spoil (much) of season four. Just so you're aware though, I may just spoil things from seasons one through three, which serves you right if you haven't gotten in on this show by now.
Not only is 'Dexter' the best show on television, season four was the best season so far. It was absolutely killer (pun intended).
Dexter finds himself struggling with family life. Most shows head off the rails when pregnancy and babies are introduced, but not this one. The entire show is focused around how Dexter is able to deal with real-life situations while being a monster inside. How does someone who kills people in his spare time handle a baby? What does he tell that baby? How does he raise it? Is he afraid it will grow up to be like him? What a perfect twist on a plot line that has been used over and over in TV shows.
While battling with his family and sleep deprivation from sleepless nights of baby crying, Dexter also has to worry about his sister Deb and her screwed up life. Besides Dexter, Deb is the most complicated character on the show, watching her grow and learn can be frustrating at times, but we understand she's a rock in Dexter's life. She keeps him grounded. Rita (his wife) has, for the first few seasons, been used more as a mask more or less by Dexter in order to seem normal. It's Deb who really gives Dexter someone to care for, so when her life is so screwed up with her unhealthy relationships, Dexter finds himself trying to protect her.
Finally, let's talk about the reason this season is some of the best TV I've watched in years. Two words: John Lithgow. Lithgow plays the Trinity Killer, another serial killer foe for Dexter to face. Although, Trinity is like no other villain you've ever witnessed. Lithgow is creepiness personified. Each time he's on screen he makes your skin crawl. It's an awesomely grotesque performance.
Once Dexter comes in contact with Trinity, the scenes are electric. Who's going to give first? Who's going to come out on top? This was the first time in a long while where I honestly had no idea what was going to happen in a TV show. Usually you know that your protagonist is safe and sound and will live to fight again another day, here I was never quite sure. The writing in season four keeps you on your toes.
If you haven't seen Dexter - you shouldn't really have read this review – you need to get with it, because you're missing some fine television. Michael C. Hall ('Six Feet Under') is brilliant as the ever confused and evolving Dexter, but John Lithgow is the real treat in this season. You'd never know he played High Commander Dick Solomon on '3rd Rock from the Sun.' After playing Trinity, it's hard to imagine him as anyone else.
This season's got twists and turns aplenty, but the character development here is unrivaled by any other series. Even the side characters perform their tasks perfectly by creating a world around Dexter that seems to be closing in. The real question is, will Dexter get caught? It seems imminent the longer the show goes on.
Like I said, I can't say enough good things about this series, and this season is the best so far. So what are you waiting for, go watch it already!
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The Best Buy Exclusive for 'Dexter Season 4 comes with 3 50GB dics in a keepcase with a swinging separator in the middle which holds two of the three discs. The bonus fourth disc is packaged on the outside of the keepcase in a worthless slipcover which is almost impossible to fit inside the case itself.
Having watched 'Dexter' throughout the season in 1080i on cable, let me say it's great having season four in full 1080p.
The previous 'Dexter' seasons have all featured stellar video transfers, and this season is no exception. Filming in the lush locale of South Florida 'Dexter' is able to make use of all the nighttime colors of South Beach, and also the rich greenery surrounding the Everglades. Detail is ramped up to the extreme. I know for sure the show didn't look this clear on TV. Every hair, fiber, and blood droplet is not only visible, but magnified. Details pop out all over the place. Facial detail like Batista's goatee and Dexter's five o'clock shadow are shining examples of what can be seen with this transfer.
While blocking was an occasional occurrence during the TV airings, here 'Dexter' is free and clear of any annoying compression artifacts. This baby is cleaner than one of Dexter's sterile crime scenes. Noise does pop up now and again, but it isn't anything that's caused by the transfer itself. Instead it has to do with how the show was shot in the first place.
South Florida is a sunny place, so there are brighter, outdoor shots that have whites burning a little hot. Faces take on a pinkish hue, mostly because the actors are filming in the hot sun all day. That's nothing to worry about though. I did notice some edge enhancement in a couple places, mostly on various background objects like trees.
Top to bottom, this is one of the best looking TV-on-Blu-ray releases out. There are a few minor hiccups along the way, but overall the show just looks stunning in high-def.
'Dexter's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix works almost as well as the video, producing a life-like soundfield that keeps us engaged throughout the season. High-Def Digest recently spoke with the show's Emmy nominated sound team, and their passion is clear on this release.
Dialogue, is perfectly balanced. Dexter's sullen voice-over narration is clean and clear. Dialogue, even when whispered, is never hushed or incomprehensible. LFE is plentiful, especially during the light-hearted title sequence that precedes every episode. Bass is also cranked during intense scenes as the music builds to a climax and dun, dun, duuuun something huge is revealed. Ambient sound comes crisp and clear through the surround speakers, like when Dexter visits a construction site where a home is being built, or when we're placed in the middle of a crowded police station. People milling about, sound effects happening off screen, they're all given proper directionality adding to the engulfing and realistic audio presentation.
While this isn't a show like '24,' which contains explosion after explosion, 'Dexter' does use its sound design to build suspense and tell part of the story. The Dolby TrueHD mix accompanying season four is a near perfect way to do so. This is a great sounding mix all around.
While some of the special features may also be available on the DVD release of season four, they're all accessed via BD-Live on the Blu-ray release, so I have included them below
'Dexter' is the best show on TV, and season four was the best season yet. More suspense, more development in Dexter's character, and more John Lithgow being the most creepy serial killer to walk the earth. I loved every second of this season, and I'm so glad to see yet another 'Dexter' Blu-ray presentation that gives the show the stellar video and audio it deserves. The features section is a little bland, and is only located on BD-Live. Still this set comes highly recommended. Fans need this one.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.